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Using Podcasts to Broaden the Reach of Smaller Museums

Using Podcasts to Broaden the Reach of Smaller Museums

In a recent episode, “Awkward Questions for Kara Cooney,” Jeannie Kenmotsu, the Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Curator of Asian Art, led a discussion about the traveling “Queen Nefertari’s Egypt” exhibition. In October, Ms. Cooney, a professor of Egyptian art and architecture at U.C.L.A., gave the virtual museum talk “When Women Ruled the World.”

Ms. Kenmotsu began the episode by acknowledging that the talk and the exhibition, which began at the Museo Egizio in Turin, Italy, and is now on view at the New Orleans Museum of Art, provoked questions in the community around ethics, race, power, the role of museums and “grave goods.”

“Exhibitions of ancient Egyptian material don’t just raise awkward questions for Egyptologists,” she said, “they can raise awkward questions for visitors, and they definitely raise awkward and difficult questions for museums as institutions.” In its first day, Mr. Richardson said, the episode broke all of the podcast’s listenership records, and was “charting” in Egypt and Japan.

Perhaps the most far-reaching of this class of podcasts is the Philbrook Museum of Art’s “Museum Confidential,” currently in its sixth season, with about 100,000 subscribers. The host, Jeff Martin, the Philbrook’s online communities manager, describes it as a “strange mix” of a museum conference, “A Prairie Home Companion” (Mr. Martin writes fake museum-centric ads for each episode) and “Radiolab. ”

Episodes range from museum unionization and the 1921 Tulsa race massacre to interviews with the rapper Killer Mike about joining the board of the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, and, recently, the artist Lilianne Milgrom, who spent six weeks painting a recreation of Gustave Courbet’s “L’Origine du monde” (1866) at the Musée D’Orsay.

Mr. Martin has also taken “Museum Confidential” on the road for live sessions at the Aspen Art Museum and the American Folk Art Museum in New York.


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